A welcome change in TV content, courtesy YRF!

By Arpana

New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) Bored of melodramatic soaps and spooky thrillers on the idiot box? Try watching "Mahi Way", "Rishta.com", "Powder" or "Seven" that, with their distinct style, content and weekly outings, have breathed freshness into Indian television.

All these are new offerings by YRF Television, the television arm of Yash Raj Films. Though the TRPs are not overwhelming, the makers are undeterred and say quality content and word of mouth publicity will propel them to the top.

"(We will boost TRPs) by continuing to maintain our quality and staying true to the concepts of our shows and our model of production," Ravina Kohli, creative head of Yash Raj Television, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

"It is early days yet and we have achieved the response from our defined target group and there has been phenomenal word of mouth. That in itself is satisfying," she said.

YRF's serials, aired on Sony, are perceived as breezy, down to earth and close to reality unlike the soaps that have ruled Indian television for over a decade.

"There is always going to be a demand for good content and there is enough space for everyone today, especially for those who can produce good and meaningful programming. We believe in our content and maintaining our quality, staying true to the concepts of our shows and our model of production is what will work," she added.

YRF's bouquet is a mix of drama, thriller and chat shows. They bring fond memories of shows like "Banegi Apni Baat", "Dard" and "Subah", which are still remembered for their strong storyline and interesting pace.

"Mahi Way" is the simple and sweet tale of a young, overweight girl Mahi and it takes a humorous look at how she struggles to find a right guy for herself. Set in Delhi, the story so far has been moving at an interesting pace and Mahi is slowly making her way into viewers' hearts.

"Rishta.com" is about young and ambitious Rohan and Isha who have joined hands to find people their perfect match and the show has slowly carved a niche.

Then there is a thriller in the form of "Powder" that deals with men on two different sides of the law. Set against the narcotics trade with Mumbai as a backdrop, it explores varied human emotions and the story travels from murky by-lanes to glitzy highrises, from ordinary people to power players. It surely keeps the viewers on the edge.

"Seven", inspired by mythology, explores the journey of seven ordinary people with extraordinary powers and their quest to fulfil an ancient prophecy and save the world from evil forces - certainly a welcome change from spooky thrillers.

Kohli says YRF wanted to serve to the audience something different.

"Our main criterion is always the script and the concept. Each one of our fiction shows has a strong script, a clear basic concept and its own identity. We wanted a mix in terms of genres and target audiences; so each show is very different in its look, pace and treatment. At the same time they are all urban, contemporary and reflect modern India."

And last but not the least is the reality show "Lift Kara De" that boasts of a new concept and a superstar line-up. Hosted by none other than Karan Johar, each week features one superstar and his or her biggest fan.

"The reality show is also unique in its concept of helping a really unfortunate, needy person through the biggest fan of a superstar," said Kohli.

What also sets these serials apart is that they are weekly shows. "We wanted to treat and approach our serials just the way we do our films. We opted for weekly shows so as to be able to maintain a certain level of quality," said Kohli.

Although audiences are addicted to daily soaps, Kohli feels the distinct storyline and presentation will force TV audience to change their taste.

"Our shows are very production heavy - requiring several different locations for each episode and several days to shoot each episode. While some shows have a lot of action or special effects that require a lot of time to shoot, others are complicated to shoot in other ways. So trying to do this in a daily format would just not have worked."

"We are very clear that we would like to stay with weeklies for all the above reasons. We hope that our strong storylines, our production values and fresh casting will draw audiences to try out and stay with our shows."

(Arpana can be contacted at arpana.s@ians.in)

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